The game had been over for an hour, and the 25,000 people who had witnessed the end of the longest winning streak in high school football history had emptied out of what was then Qwest Field in Seattle.

But the magnitude of what had happened to the De La Salle High football team on Sept. 4, 2004, didn't settle on Zac McNally -- then a senior linebacker with the Spartans -- until he returned to the hotel and turned on ESPN.

"The first thing we see are the highlights of the game, and it's on the ticker that De La Salle's streak is over," McNally said. "That's when it sunk in."

Bellevue Wolverines JR Hasty gets around the De La Salle defense for a large gain in the 2nd quarter of their game at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington
Bellevue Wolverines JR Hasty gets around the De La Salle defense for a large gain in the 2nd quarter of their game at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington Saturday September 4,2004. (BOB LARSON/CONTRA COSTA TIMES)

A decade after the 39-20 loss that ended De La Salle's 12-year, 151-game winning streak, the specifics of the game and the emotions the De La Salle team felt that historic night have not been forgotten, if only because it was the most points a Bob Ladouceur-coached team had ever allowed.

Bellevue High, a Washington state power, had pushed the Spartans around, dominating the line of scrimmage when it had the ball and running its Wing-T offense to near-perfection. The Wolverines had 30 points by halftime and a 19-point lead by the start of the fourth quarter. The end of "The Streak" wasn't coming on a last-second stunner. It had been coming from almost the beginning of the game.


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Bellevue had an extraordinary running back in J.R. Hasty, the son of two-time NFL Pro-Bowler James Hasty. With Hasty and quarterback Eric Block -- just 14 years old and making his first varsity start -- Bellevue amassed 463 yards of offense, all on the ground. The Wolverines did not attempt a pass and were never forced to punt.

Bellevue had moved the start of its fitness program from June to January and gone through eight months of often grueling preparations that attempted to duplicate De La Salle's offseason regimen. Weightlifting sessions were doubled in length from 90 minutes to three hours. Players had private workouts on off days, feeling that De La Salle's players were probably doing the same.

"It was intense. Pretty much right after the season ended in 2003 we started training for De La Salle in 2004," Block said. "Tons of film work, practice work, in the weight room, getting big. The linemen were doing sleds every day. Running stairs. The workload was like nothing I had done before."

De La Salle player Anthony Gutierrez walks off the field as the Bellevue Wolverines celebrate a 39-20 victory over the De La Salle Spartans at Qwest Field
De La Salle player Anthony Gutierrez walks off the field as the Bellevue Wolverines celebrate a 39-20 victory over the De La Salle Spartans at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington that broke the Spartans' 151-game winning streak on Saturday, September 4, 2004. (BOB LARSON/CONTRA COSTA TIMES)

The game was the fifth and last of an all-day football jamboree called the Emerald City Kickoff Classic. Media coverage was intense; the Seattle Times devoted four pages of its Sept. 4 sports section to the event. More than 70 credentials for print and electronic media were issued.

Anticipation for the game reached a fever pitch by kickoff, when most of the lower bowl at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, was full. The belief was that this Bellevue team -- which had won three straight state championships -- was the school's best yet. And the Spartans, with only quarterback Kevin Lopina headed to a Division I school on scholarship, were thought to be vulnerable.

"We did have a brotherhood, and there were a lot of close friends. We had that going for us. But talent-wise, we just weren't as good as we had been in the past," said Lopina, who played college football at Kansas State and Washington State and is now an assistant coach at Oak Ridge High in El Dorado Hills. "I think everyone kind of knew that, but no one really said it. So it was scary going into that game."

De La Salle began with the ball and, as it had so many times during "The Streak," scored on the opening drive on a 45-yard touchdown run by senior running back Eduardo Lopez, one of several Spartans who were making their first start.

"Athletically, that was probably one of the most exciting moments in my life," said Lopez, who went on to play for Cal's rugby team.

The excitement was short-lived. Bellevue got the ball, and on its first play from scrimmage, with a little misdirection, Hasty went untouched for a 75-yard touchdown.

Lopina: "I remember looking at Ladouceur -- and I don't think he wanted me to hear this -- but he said 'Well, that's deflating.' "

Hasty scored three touchdowns in the first half, and Bellevue went into the locker room with a 30-20 lead. De La Salle had moved the ball well but was offering little resistance defensively.

"The main thing was dealing with the physicality at the point of attack. They were physically overmatching us," McNally said. "Our defensive ends were lined up incorrectly for I think half the game.

"It wasn't the reason we lost. It just added to it."

Bellevue made some halftime adjustments on defense, and De La Salle's offense sputtered. The Wolverines got another touchdown from Hasty, his fourth, and had a 39-20 lead at the end of the third quarter.

With the Spartans going nowhere as the fourth quarter wore on, reality hit home. The transcendent program was about to lose for the first time since December 1991.

"I was looking up at the scoreboard -- not giving up -- but just realizing that, 'Wow, time is ticking away,' " McNally said. "Time's ticking down, and that this is probably going to happen."

Block took a knee to end the game, and Bellevue's players rushed to the center of the field to celebrate. The Spartans shook the hands of their opponents and walked to the locker room.

Inside, emotions bubbled to the surface. Equipment was thrown on the floor. Some players were crying. Others sat in stone silence.

But the message from Ladouceur was clear: Don't let one game define your season.

"He basically said this team won't be judged by losing the streak or by this one game," Lopez said. "We were going to be judged off how we react to being defeated, how we live on with the rest of our season."

It took De La Salle a while to regain its footing. The Spartans lost their home opener 30-12 to Clovis West, then settled for a 7-7 tie against Palma-Salinas. Victory didn't come until the fourth game of the season, a 49-0 win over Archbishop Mitty-San Jose.

De La Salle was 2-3-2 after a 17-17 tie against Clayton Valley when the Spartans' 2004 season, depicted in the new movie, "When the Game Stands Tall," finally began to come together. Playing as a unit and with a confidence lacking at the start of the season, the Spartans reeled off six straight wins to finish 8-3-2. The streak was punctuated by a 41-0 victory over Amador Valley in the North Coast Section 4A title game.

"I personally believe that if we had played Bellevue in week eight or nine, it would have been a much different game," Lopina said. "Unfortunately, it was week one."